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Province releases rules for cannabis retailers

February 21, 2018

On February 16, 2018, the Government of Alberta introduced updates to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Regulation that will govern how legal cannabis retailers operate. While the regulations will be established province-wide, municipalities will have the ability to adjust certain aspects to best suit their communities.

The regulation now outlines a number of operational requirements for private retailers, including:

  • Mandatory background checks for retail licence applicants.
  • Mandatory training and background checks for all retail employees.
  • One person, group, or organization cannot hold more than 15 per cent of retail licences in Alberta.
  • A 100-metre buffer for stores from schools and provincial health-care facilities. However, municipalities have the ability to adjust these buffer zones or add additional ones to best suit their communities’ needs.
  • Store hours set between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. (the same as liquor stores) with municipalities able to adjust these hours.
  • Mandatory security measures in stores.

Role of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will carry out licensing, oversight, and compliance functions for private cannabis retailers, as well as manage the distribution of cannabis. Details on the process and requirements for applying to be a cannabis retailer are now available, and the AGLC will begin accepting applications for licences on March 6, 2018.

The AGLC has the authority to set strict regulatory guidelines and licence requirements for private cannabis retailers:

  • No co-location of cannabis sales with alcohol, pharmaceuticals and tobacco sales will be permitted.
  • Regulations will be aligned with federal rules around advertising, labelling and promotion of cannabis, with the ability to strengthen regulations provincially in the future.

The AGLC will also be responsible for operating online cannabis sales for the province. Details of the online e-commerce site will be unveiled later this year.

AUMA’s response to regulation

We were pleased to see that the updated regulation generally aligns with AUMA’s past advocacy on this topic. For example, the regulation gives municipalities the flexibility to adapt rules around buffer zones and store hours to local needs.

However, there are still a number of questions around legalization that need to be addressed, such as tax revenue-sharing and supports for municipalities in implementing legalization. Additionally, the regulation does not provide an explicit mechanism for municipalities to opt out of having a retail storefront in their community.

AUMA resources for municipalities

AUMA will be hosting a webinar with the AGLC to discuss the licensing process for cannabis retailers. The date for this webinar has not yet been determined, so stay tuned to our weekly Digest for more details. Additionally, the AGLC will be participating in our cannabis session at the Spring 2018 Municipal Leaders’ Caucus. This session will also feature speakers from the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat who will give an overview of the new cannabis regulations.

AUMA is working with Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer (RMRF) to develop a resource that will assist municipalities with land-use planning and bylaw development in advance of legalization. This resource will be shared with our membership once it is complete. We will also dedicate a session at Spring 2018 Municipal Leaders’ Caucus to this topic.

Government of Alberta's cannabis framework 

AUMA advocacy and municipal resources